MBBS fee- 5 years or 4.5 years? Supreme Court to decide
New Delhi: The apex court is soon going to decide the fate of lakhs of medical students, as it has now taken up the matter whether MBBS fee that is paid by medical students should be for 4.5 years, that is what the MCI norms define as the duration of MBBS course or 5 years - that is the amount the most medical colleges are currently charging
In its recent order, the Supreme Court has put a stay on the Telangana High Court order directing the state's private medical colleges to collect MBBS fee only for 4.5 years instead of 5 years.
Medical Dialogues had reported about the hearing recently wherein the HC declared the state's permission of allowing the self financing medical colleges to collect MBBS fee for 5 years while the course's duration is 4.5 years; as "arbitrary and illegal".
Warning the concerned private medical colleges that stringent action could be initiated against them under the Andhra Pradesh Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Prohibition of Capitation Fee) Act-1983, the high court had further directed the institutes to collect tuition fee only for the stipulated duration for MBBS course.
The order was passed by the division bench of Justices MS Ramachandra Rao and K Lakshman who found fault with the state government for blatantly accepting the recommendation of the Telangana Admissions and Fee Regulatory Commission (TAFRC) for charging the MBBS fees for 5 years.
As per the Medical Council of India Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997, the duration of MBBS course is four-and-a-half years. Noting the petition filed by one concerned students who assailed the action of Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences, Warangal (KNRUHS) of overcharging, the bench made its observations in the case.
This was not the first time, the issue of MBBS fees and duration had come before the court. In 2018 as well, the petitioner had challenged the GO No 120 in 2017 which enabled the collection of the annual tuition fee for MBBS course prescribed for five academic years instead of duration fixed by the MCI. In response to the petition, the Fee Regulatory Commission before the high court had contended that the fee for 5 years is being collected because the colleges have to conduct extra classes for failed students and those who were short of attendance.
The association contended that "expenditure incurred is for the entire year and not a part of it". The teachers are paid salaries for the whole year and the infrastructure of the college is also maintained for the whole year, the plea stated.
"While the final year students undertake only one semester in their final year, all other batches run for the whole year. Incidentally, there are also instances where some of the students are required to undergo additional classes, examinations and clinical postings for an extended duration of 6 years, and it may not be foreseeable in the beginning of the academic year as to which students will be required to do so", it submitted.
Despising the contentions, the bench stated that it appeared that the government harboured the assumption that all students who get admission to the MBBS course were likely to fail and would require an additional six months of study. The court observed:
"Such presumption is wholly without any basis because only some of the students might fail and require to be provided additional study period, but on that account all students cannot be charged tuition fee for five years when the course of study as fixed by the Medical Council of India is only four-and-a-half years."
Terming the decision to allow the collection of fees for an extra half-a-year as "baffling", the HC bench had noted that it was most unfortunate on part of the TAFRC, whose duty it is to protect the interests of students and to ensure that they are not overcharged by the private unaided professional institutions. It further directed the institutes to stop levying MBBS fee for five years.
Challenging this HC order, the association moved the Supreme Court and sought relief.
Considering the petition, the apex court has put a stay on the HC order and stated:
"Until further orders, there shall be stay of operation of the impugned order passed by the High Court."
The SC order is attached below